Newsletter
Our Newsletter Alert March 14 2012

Newsletter Vol. IV, Issue 01 – March 14, 2012

In This Issue:

DOS Publishes Final Rule Permitting Issuance of Full Validity L Visas to Qualified Applicants

USCIS  Launches Series of Public Engagements with Chinese Immigrant Community

Global Entry Program to Become Permanent

DOS Publishes Final Rule Permitting Issuance of Full Validity L Visas to Qualified Applicants

On February 14, 2012, the Department of State (DOS) published a final rule which changes the validity period of visas issued to individuals with approved L visa petitions. After an L visa petition is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an individual who is overseas must apply for and receive a visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas before she may enter the United States. Previously, the visa would only be valid for the same time period for which USCIS approved the initial L visa petition, up to three years. As a result, individuals who applied for extensions of their L status would have to apply for a new visa if they traveled outside the United States during the extension period.

Under the new rule, the validity period of the visa issued by DOS is determined by the visa reciprocity schedule for the applicant’s country. Each country has a visa reciprocity schedule with the United States, which is based on the time period that a U.S. national would receive if granted a visa from that country. Thus, in cases where the visa reciprocity schedule for the L visa applicant’s country permits a longer validity period than the L visa petition, if the applicant extends her stay in L status, she will generally not have to apply for a new visa if she travels outside the United States during the extension period. Want more information about L visa extensions? Contact Us!

USCIS  Launches Series of Public Engagements with Chinese Immigrant Community

On February 16, 2012, USCIS held the first of a series of Chinese-language public engagements, which have been scheduled to enable USCIS officials to provide information to and answer questions from the Chinese immigrant community. The series is called Jiao Liu, which means engagement in Chinese. The first session was conducted from USCIS’s San Francisco field office in Mandarin and Cantonese. Individuals from all across the country were permitted to participate via teleconference, and the session was streamed live over the internet. The theme of the session was “The Naturalization Process: Becoming a United States Citizen.”

Each subsequent Jiao Liu session will focus on a different immigration or citizenship topic and will include a Question and Answer period with USCIS officials.  The Jiao Liu series was announced following USCIS’s success with a similar series of sessions conducted in Spanish. USCIS is also planning another series which will be conducted in the Vietnamese language.

Our office will monitor the progress of the Jiao Liu sessions and post updates to our website.

Global Entry Program to Become Permanent

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano recently announced that the Global Entry Program would become a permanent program effective March 7, 2012. The Global Entry Program is a program created by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the law enforcement agency which enforces U.S. immigration law at the United States border and all ports of entry. The Global Entry Program uses biometric identification to expedite the clearance and admission process for pre-approved, low-risk travelers arriving at any of 20 international airports in the United States. CBP claims that participating in the program reduces the average wait time for clearance and admission by seventy percent (70%), with over seventy-five percent (75%) of participants processed in under five minutes.

Wondering how the Global Entry Program will affect you? Call us to find out more!

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT US AND WE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH A CONFIDENTIAL AND FREE CONSULTATION.

 

Law Offices of Ron Katiraei
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Our Newsletter Alert February 17 2012
Friday, 17 February 2012 17:33

Vol. III, Issue 06 – February 21, 2012

In This Issue:

USCIS Announces Expansion of E-Verify Self-Check Program to All 50 States
USCIS Proposes Changes in Employment Immigration Rules to Encourage Immigration by Highly Skilled Immigrants
EB-2 Priority Date Moves 12 Months for Chinese and Indian Nationals

USCIS Announces Expansion of E-Verify Self-Check Program to All 50 States

On February 9, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the E-Verify Self-Check Service is now available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.  The E-Verify Self-Check Service allows individuals who are seeking employment to confirm that they are eligible to work in the United States and correct mistakes in government records.  Initially launched in March 2011, Self-Check is a free service which can be accessed online by anyone in the U.S. over 16 years of age.

Wondering how nationwide Self-Check access will affect the hiring process?  One important thing to remember is that employers should not require job seekers to use Self-Check, either before or after they are hired.  Both USCIS and the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment  Practices (OSC) have emphasized that such a requirement would likely violate the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Be sure to check our website for frequent updates on E-Verify Self-Check and its impact on employers and job seekers.

USCIS Proposes Changes in Employment Immigration Rules to Encourage Immigration by Highly Skilled Immigrants

On January 31, 2012, USCIS announced that it is proposing a variety of changes in the rules which govern employment-based immigration.  It is hoped that these changes will benefit the U.S. economy and encourage highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs to immigrate to the U.S.  The proposed changes include:

·         Providing work authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders.  The H-1B visa is a temporary visa available to foreign workers in specialty occupations who hold bachelor’s degrees.  USCIS has stated that the H-1B visa holder will need to spend a certain amount of time in the U.S. before his or her spouse can obtain work authorization, but has not yet specified how much time.

·         Expanding the evidence of academic achievement which may be presented to qualify for an EB-1 Outstanding Researcher or Professor Visa.The EB-1 Outstanding Researcher or Professor Visa is reserved for individuals who can demonstrate that they have received international recognition for outstanding achievements in a specific academic field.  The new rule would permit applicants to present “comparable evidence” in addition to the specific items of evidence already listed in the regulations.

·         Permitting E-3 visa holders from Australia and H1-B1 visa holders from Singapore and Chile to continue working with their current employer for up to 240 days while their immigration status extension applications are pending. The extension application will need to be filed before the E-3 or H1-B1 visa holder’s status expires.

Our office will monitor USCIS efforts to implement these changes and post updates to our website.

EB-2 Priority Date Moves 12 Months for Chinese and Indian Nationals

In February 2012, the priority date employment-based second preference (EB-2) visa for applicants from China and India moved 12 months from January 1, 2009 to January 1, 2010.  The EB-2 visa is available to foreign nationals with exceptional ability and foreign nationals with advanced degrees who are members of the professions.  In most cases, the movement in priority date means that EB-2 applicants from China and India may file an Adjustment of Status (AOS) Application for Permanent Residence (green card) if a labor certification was filed for them on January 1, 2010 or earlier.

The priority date for Chinese and Indian EB-2 applicants has moved ahead rapidly in recent months.  As a result, it is possible that so many AOS applications will be filed that the priority date will move backward later this year.  Want more information about the latest changes in priority dates? Contact Us!

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING THE CHANGES TO THE H-2B VISA PROGRAM PLEASE CONTACT US FOR A CONFIDENTIAL AND FREE CONSULTATIONREGARDING THE H-2B VISA PROGRAM OR OTHER IMMIGRATION ISSUES.

 
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The Department of Labor Proposes Changes to the Temporary Labor Certification Process of the H-2B Visa Program

Vol. II, Issue 03 – June 24, 2011

In This Issue:

What is Temporary Labor Certification?
What are the Proposed Changes?
Anticipated Consequences for Employers Applying for H-2B Visas

What is Temporary Labor Certification?

Before employers can apply for permission to employ foreign workers under the H-2B Visa program, they must file for and obtain a temporary labor certification from the Department of Labor.  To obtain temporary labor certification, employers must demonstrate that (1) there are no qualified U.S. workers who are able, willing and available to take the job and (2) that employment of foreign workers under the H-2B Visa program will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

The temporary labor certification process requires employers to recruit U.S. workers and demonstrate that U.S. workers are unavailable.  Employers must also submit a statement explaining why their need for foreign workers is temporary.  In particular, they must explain why their need for H-2B workers is (1) a seasonal need, (2) peakload ( a need which is tied to a recurring peak in demand), (3) an intermittent need, or (4) a need created by a one-time occurrence.

What are the Proposed Changes?

On March 18, 2011, the Department of Labor published several proposed changes to the temporary labor certification process, such as:

  1. excluding from H-2B visa eligibility all employers who do not exercise “substantial, direct day-to-day supervision or control” over their employees,
  1. excluding from H-2B visa eligibility jobs which require foreign workers to be employed for nine months or more, except in cases of a one-time employer need
  1. reassigning responsibility for overseeing employer recruitment efforts to State Workforce Agencies (SWAs),
  1. requiring employers to continue recruiting and accepting qualified U.S. workers until three days before the start date for H-2B workers,
  1. giving the Department of Labor Certifying Officer (CO) the discretion to require the employer to conduct additional recruitment efforts,
  1. adding a registration process which requires workers to prove that they have a temporary need before they can apply for temporary labor certification,
  1. requiring the employer to guarantee that the total hours of paid employment for each H-2B worker in each four week period will equal three-quarters of the workdays in that period,
  1. requiring the employer to pay transportation, subsistence and other costs for H-2B workers and U.S. workers who do not live near the place of employment.

Anticipated Consequences for Employers Applying for H-2B Visas

The proposed changes will make it significantly harder for employers to hire foreign nationals under the H-2B visa program.  For example, the proposed rules limiting program eligibility may make it impossible for many employers to obtain H-2B visas, including employers who do not have supervisory employees at specific job sites and employers who have a recurring need to employ foreign workers for nine months or more.   Even more troubling, these changes in H-2B visa eligibility are very broadly drafted, thereby giving the Department of Labor substantial discretion to deny temporary labor certification to many employers.

Moreover, reassigning to SWAs the responsibility for overseeing recruitment efforts is likely to cause processing delays, as previous SWA involvement in oversight produced significant delays.  Adding a registration process which must be completed prior to applying for temporary labor certification will further prolong the process of obtaining H-2B visas.  It will also create the additional burden of requiring employers to estimate their staffing needs six to seven months before the expected start date for H2-B workers.  Additionally, the Department of Labor has not provided any guidance to employers about which situations may cause the CO to require additional recruitment efforts, thereby limiting employers’ ability to plan for these efforts.

Equally problematic, requiring employers to guarantee that H2-B workers will receive pay for three-fourths of the workdays in each four-week period will place a huge financial burden on employers.  This burden will be further increased by the decision to define full-time employment as 35 instead of 30 hours per week.  Employers also face increased costs if they are required to pay transportation and subsistence costs for H-2B and U.S. workers who do not live near the place of employment.  Perhaps the most troubling is the requirement that employers accept qualified U.S. workers until a mere three days before the start date.  Since three days are often insufficient to make travel arrangements for H-2B workers, this proposed change may create situations where the employer’s need for H-2B workers is eliminated after the employer has already paid for foreign workers to travel to the United States.  Additionally, this requirement will create significant uncertainty about visa availability for the H-2B workers themselves.

Summary

If the Department of Labor implements the proposed changes to the temporary labor certification process, these changes will significantly increase the complexity of an already complicated process, producing substantial delays, increasing employer costs, and creating uncertainty about the likelihood of success.  The proposed changes will exclude many employers from eligibility for the H-2B program and make it exceedingly difficult for eligible employers to obtain H-2B visas.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING THE CHANGES TO THE H-2B VISA PROGRAM PLEASE CONTACT US FOR A CONFIDENTIAL AND FREE CONSULTATION REGARDING THE H-2B VISA PROGRAM OR OTHER IMMIGRATION ISSUES.

 
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Champions of Change: Immigrant Integration

In his 2011 State of the Union Address to Congress, President Obama described the United States as “first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That's why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risk everything to come here...the future is ours to win. But to get there, we cannot stand still.” In response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address to Congress, throughout the month of May, leaders throughout the nation have banned together to help ease immigrants into the naturalization process. These leaders provide services to help newcomers learn English. Afterwards, the newcomers have moved on to start businesses and obtaining jobs in fields like the health care industry to allow them to utilize their skills they brought to our nation. The community leaders have also created intergenerational programs that bring the young and the elderly together to help learn about the citizenship process. These leaders have continued their goals to help develop a federal strategy on immigrant integration.

Our country has been founded by the hard work of immigrant people from around the world. The future immigrants of America see the core values of equality and opportunity as a message that we are here with open arms. The President’s vision is to have a successful integration in order to grow in the future, these leaders have not only done just that, but are paving the way for others to follow.

 
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